Blackberry and star anise friands
These look splendid when iced, as in the picture – but also work beautifully un-iced, stored in the biscuit tin, for grabbing on a whim. Blueberries or raspberries can be used instead of blackberries. Don’t use strawberries, though: they are too watery.
expa seethe nded mailo recip nline eat .co.uk/ you MAKES 180g unsalted butter, plus an extra 10g, melted, for brushing 60g plain flour, plus extra for dusting 200g icing sugar 120g ground almonds 1½ tsp ground star anise (or 3 whole star anise, blitzed in a spice grinder and passed through a fine mesh sieve) ⅛ tsp salt
We use a regular muffin tin for these, but all sorts of moulds work: large muffin tins, mini-muffin tins, rectangular or oval (friand) moulds, as shown in the photo.
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/ gas 7. Brush the 12 holes of a regular muffin tin with the melted butter and sprinkle all over with flour. Tap the tray gently to ensure an even coating of the flour, then turn upside down to remove the excess. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the batter.
To brown the butter, place it in a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until melted. Continue to cook until the butter is foaming, gently swirling the pan from time to time to allow the solids to brown more evenly. You will see dark brown sediment begin to form on the sides and bottom of the pan. Continue to allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a rich golden brown and smells of toasted nuts and caramel. Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes to allow the burnt solids to collect at the bottom of the pan.
Strain through a fine-mesh (or muslin-lined) sieve, discarding the solids. Allow the browned butter to cool slightly before using. It should still be warm when folding it into the mix later: if it is too hot, it will ‘cook’ the egg whites; if it is too cool, it will be difficult to incorporate into the mix.
While the butter is cooling, sift the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds, star anise and salt into a bowl. Place the 150g egg whites (from 4 large eggs) finely grated zest of 1 small orange (1 tsp) 18 whole blackberries (about 120g), cut in half lengthways egg whites in a small bowl and use a whisk or fork to froth them up for a few seconds – you do not need to whisk them completely. Pour the egg whites into the sifted dry ingredients and stir until they are incorporated. Add the orange zest and browned butter and mix until the batter is smooth.
Remove the muffin tin from the fridge and fill the moulds just over two-thirds of the way up the sides. Place three halved blackberries on top, cut-side down, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 210C/190C fan/gas 6 (starting with a high oven temperature and then bringing it down is the way to achieve the lovely brown crust you want), turn the tray around in the oven for even cooking and continue to bake for another 8 minutes, until the edges of the friands are golden brown and the centres have a slight peak and spring back when gently prodded. Set aside to cool before removing them from their moulds: you might need to use a small knife to help you release the sides.
Un-iced, these will keep for up to 4 days. If the weather is warm, store them in the fridge and zap them in the microwave for a few seconds to restore their buttery moisture. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months, then thawed in the fridge and warmed through in a 170C/150C fan/gas 3 oven for 5 minutes; this will restore their crisp edges as well.